15 January 2013

Nigeria: North Responsible for Its Woes - Sultan

Photo: Leadership
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar

Sultan of Sokoto Dr. Muhammed Sa'ad Abubakar III has blamed the present insecurity and other associated challenges bedevilling the north on the region itself.

Sultan Abubakar, who was speaking in Kaduna at the meeting of the Northern Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee, said the problem of the north will remain the problem of the entire country, since the north could not be left with its problems.

The Sultan, who is also the president, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and president-general of the Jamatul Nasril Islam (JNI), maintained that dialogue with any aggrieved party will always remain the better solution than violence or force.

According to the Islamic leader, the traditional and religious leaders have played their part, even though they are not giving up until the challenges are permanently solved.

He, however, lamented the inability of the relevant government authorities to implement a series of well-articulated recommendations that will help to address the challenges that are yet to see the light of the day.

The meeting of the Northern Governors Peace and Reconciliation Committee was attended by the Sultan as well as the leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

"Let us sit and talk freely and articulate positions that will bring us out of the quagmire we put ourselves in, " he said. "It is important that the religious and traditional rulers from our various states sit together so that each and every one of us will talk freely..."

The Sultan continued: "Whatever that is happening in the north is our own doing, because we did not do what we were supposed to do. And since we know that, we have to solve our problems ourselves. So, I think, it is not a bad idea that the committee was set up.

"We wrote a memo of about nine pages or thereabouts covering various issues affecting the country and the north in particular to the then acting president and now president Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan... it was at the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) where we suggested solutions to the problems.

"Northern Council of Traditional Rulers met and also articulated solutions to problems of the north to the northern governors, but we don't know what happened to the recommendations at the various authorities.

"If our recommendations had been implemented, we would have been singing a different tune in handling the challenges."

On the issue of trying to Islamize the country as insinuated in some quarters, the Sultan said no person can either Islamize of Christianize the country. "If anybody thinks he can Islamize or Christianize the country, he must be dreaming," he stated, adding that politicians must have the fear of God in whatever they do: "If they want to solve the problem of this country they will, because they have the resources to do so.

"There is little religious leaders can do without the support of the constitutional right to do certain things, but we must always watch our utterances and in making comments you cannot substantiate."

In his own remarks, John Cardinal Onaiyekan attributed the security challenges facing the north and the country in general to the high level of poverty in the country and the region in particular.

According to him, another aspect of the problem was associated to religion. He said that the bad image of the country has spread in the outside world and there was need for the stakeholders to address the issue with a view to putting a permanent end to the problems.

Christianity and Islam in Nigeria, he said, should not be seen as an accident of history, but God designed it and it cannot be changed by anyone. He added that the main problem of the country was bad governance and once that is addressed headlong, all other problems will be tackled too.

Earlier in their opening remarks, the chairman of the committee, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim, and a member of the committee, Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese Matthew Hassan Kukah, expressed the committee's commitment to discharging its responsibilities with all fairness.

9m children begging on streets of the North - Dean

A recent research has revealed that 70 percent of the nine million almajiris who engage in street begging across Nigeria are from north west geo-political zone,

The Dean of Post Graduate School, Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, Professor Ahmed Adam Okene, who disclosed this during a workshop on street begging yesterday in Minna, also noted that 30 percent of children in Northern Nigeria were out of school and engaged in street begging.

The state government had organised the workshop to seek solutions to the problem of street begging in the state.

Professor Okene, who was a chairman of the event, further said that the only way to reverse this appalling statistic was through robust collaboration among governors in the region to check the abuse of the almajiri system in particular and street begging in general.

The dean lamented that the situation had made the region vulnerable to security breaches, like the one facing the nation at present, and noted that it could be better if efforts were made to integrate Islamic and western education.

He explained that Malaysia and Thailand had walked the path of the north in the past, but were able to overcome the situation with diligence and political will.

According to him, 'applicable education' would solve the problems of the country was facing, while the country needed reformation in all facets of its life to achieve the desired development.

An Islamic scholar and the Head of the Department of Languages, NDA, Dr Ibrahim Husam Imam, contended in his own submission that the problems of street begging could not be resolved without the involvement of Qur'anic teachers, who, he said, needed assistance from government and non-governmental organisations to keep their pupils off the streets.

The Niger State attorney-general and commissioner for justice, Alhaji Abdullahi Bawa Wuse, on his part disclosed that there were more than nine million almajiris in northern Nigeria.

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